Design Essentials South Africa - The Beginning

This post has been a long time coming and l finally got down to it. (please note that this is NOT a sponsored post)
I first approached Design Essentials early January 2014 as I had started emailing and contacting a long list of natural hair care brands from all over the world (the US mainly, asking if they would ever have their products in South Africa. As many of you will know, back then, we didn't have much in terms of natural hair care for our curls, kinks and coils. I contacted many brands and got very few positive responses which was rather disheartening but for every brand that sent a positive response, my heart beamed just a little bit brighter as they extended their glimmers of hope that we too in South Africa would get to experience natural hair loving care. McBride Research Laboratories Inc. makers of Design Essentials was one of those brands who gave me this ray of hope, Sharon M Thompson - their International Marketing Manager - in particular. You have to understand my frustration, a frustration experienced by many at that time, we were learning about hair from the various YouTubers/Vloggers and Bloggers and books and literature and this ignited in us the hunger and the need to further embrace ourselves, but how could we properly do this without any good products - there were very few and we wanted more (don't even let me get started on the frustration of trying to find Shea Butter for DIY hair care projects). 

Above: The email response I received Jan 2014 - I don't think Sharon will remember but I just want her to know the impact she made by taking the time to send such a positive response. Thank you Sharon

Later that same year, 2014, Design Essentials arrived. Our Natural Hair Gurus at the time, Wisaal, Kavuli, Tendayi, Carice and Aisha also released their reviews of some of their products and all was well with the world. The founders of McBride Research Laboratories, Mr McBride Sr and Cornell McBride Jr came through to talk about the brand and their vision for South Africa and Africa as a whole. I got to attend the Press Launch and Salon Business Launch of the Design Essentials Salon System at Twincare International Offices in Sunninghill JHB. Sharon was also there and it was such a pleasure to finally meet her. McBride Research Laboratories have been in the industry for over 25 years, Mr McBride Senior's background is not just that of a pharmacist but he co-invented Sta-Sof-Fro which is still available today (Mr McBride and his partner at the time sold the company to another firm). In 1990 Design Essentials was launched and has been evolving ever since expanding all across America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Mr McBride assured us that they were here and they were here to stay. Over and above distribution, Cornell McBride Jr assured us that training is very important to Design Essentials, that they establish not just a brand presence but want to teach stylists and anyone that uses their products how to use them correctly as well as learn about overall good hair care. (I did ask if the training will be extended to the consumers and the answer was YES and this would be done through events etc some upcoming posts on these.) 
 Above: Mr McBride Sr and Cornell McBride Jr 
Above: Seeing Alicia Bailey at work for the first time (and praying she would move to SA)
 Above: Alicia Bailey and Deshonica Kerrie demonstrating some of the Design Essentails Professional care and Natural range of products
Mr McBride Snr reiterated that the Natural hair movement is not temporary or a phase or fad, and that natural hair is beyond just a hair style but is a LIFESTYLE. Its a chance for stylists to adapt, and learn and incorporate ways to look after natural hair whilst increasing profits and professional stylists can do so much more. 
 Above: The end results
Roll on to 2017 and Design Essentials are still here. They are still rolling out training of both the stylists and the consumers. They are now available in Clicks nationwide. They continue to train stylists and salon owners. Hair events for consumers have taken place and I believe more are to happen. Their money back guaranteed products are still of high quality and their ranges are growing. Will they continue to grow in South Africa, I believe so and it is because they are not just about the money, they are about professional quality hair care.

Have you tried any of the Design Essentials products yet? (I have some more reviews lined up). What do you think?

Listen to your hair and try something new.

Check my YouTube channel for some videos that will load later today. 
Above: Sharon and I at another one of the DE events April 2016


  1. Oh wow - this is a lovey post Joan. The backstory of Design Essentials coming to SA is interesting. I have been using the sample sized products from the Coconut & Monoi range and my hair has been loving them! The Natural Curl Stretching Cream is also a firm favourite of mine. I also love that they're now available at Clicks!!

    Lungi @

  2. Hi Lungi - thank you for your feedback. You made me beam all the more
    (I love it when people engage with me and show that they did read a post (o:). As a special thank you, please email me the address of your nearest postnet - I am sending you the The Coconut and Monoi Deep Moisture Milk Souffle - full sized. Much love xxx

  3. @joan JemsOfANatural I love what you are doing and I love DE I recently order some product off this web site called discount beauty and they sold me DE bottles but it wasn't their product so hurt


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